The Wondrous Woo tells the story of Miramar Woo who is the quintessential Chinese girl: nice, quiet, and reserved. The eldest of the three Woo children, Miramar is ever the obedient sister and daughter … on the outside. On the inside, she’s a kick-ass kung fu heroine with rock star flash, sassy attitude, and an insatiable appetite for adventure. Just as Miramar is about to venture forth on the real adventure of leaving home for university, her beloved father is killed in an accident. Miramar watches helplessly as her family unravels in the aftermath of her father’s death. Her mother is on the brink of a recurring paranoia that involves phantom hands. Her younger siblings suddenly and mysteriously become savants, in possession of uncanny talents nicknamed The Gifts. As her siblings are swept up into the fantastic world of fame and fortune and her mother fights off madness, Miramar is left behind, feeling talentless and abandoned with no idea who she really is or who she wants to become. She gets herself to university on a bus with no family to see her off, no hugs, and no support. She is utterly on her own. In a story that spans four eventful years, Miramar ventures forth from the suburbs of Toronto to university in Ottawa and back again. Along the way she encounters people and situations light years apart from her sheltered world. She explores new friendships, lust, and a side of herself never seen before. Ultimately, Miramar discovers the meaning of courage, belonging, and family.
Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer, educator and business owner who lives in Toronto with as much aplomb as she can muster. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE/University of Toronto and teaches at Ontario College of Art and Design University.
“Leung’s novel is particularly engaging because she masters a kind of tragicomic tonality that leads to a reading experience generously peppered with narrative poignancy and quirky humor...a novel that takes its own spin on the model minority narrative and immigrant development.”— Asian American Literature Fans
“For her first novel, Leung has packed so much into this book. It breaks the barriers of silence that surround mental health, cultural difference and does it in an entertaining way.” — Schema Magazine
“The Wondrous Woo is a genuinely funny book. Leung’s writing is sharp and moves quickly, keeping up with Miramar’s lightning-quick internal monologue of witty, biting, often self-deprecating observations. The book is a fantastic mix of heartfelt and hilarious in a way that feels deeply satisfying.” — Kim MacMullen, Word on the Street Toronto
“Leung skilfully shows the alienation Miramar experiences within her own family as well as in society as an immigrant of colour. Miramar confesses that she speaks Cantonese like a child, her ‘tongue frozen upon immigration.’ Leung’s use of magic realism to heighten gender, racial and class tensions in the narrative is masterly—the device adds rich texture without ever feeling gimmicky, and care is taken to ground the fantastical aspects in satisfying detail.” — Herizons Magazine
“I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it’s beautiful, heart-wrenching, magical and yet, wholly real.” — Lisa de Nikolits, author of The Witchdoctor’s Bones